“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) The truth will make you free! We want to be free. But what do we imagine we will be made free from? The Israelites, when in slavery to the Egyptians, imagined themselves set free from their enemies. Do you have enemies you would like to be set free from? I imagine you do. Maybe your boss or co-workers are annoying. Or maybe your sisters husband is so annoying you can barely tolerate going to family functions. There are no more warm fuzzy Christmas feelings because your brother-in-law stole them all, in fact you are pretty sure he is closely related to the Grinch. Or what about those idiots on the road? The ones that cut you off or fail to use their turn signal? Or the twenty-something single young man who could use some exercise who steals your close parking spot and you’re the one with three kids under the age of five who now needs to drag them into the store from the far end of the parking lot? Or how about all the times you have pulled through a fast food establishment and not gotten what you ordered?
When God led the Israelites out of Egypt they were excited. Truth had set them free. The truth of the prophecy from 400 years before had finally happened. Gods words were true and they rejoiced leaving their enemies behind. The way they saw it the truth had set them free. But they had just begun the journey. God wanted to take them not only further in their physical journey towards the promised land but He also wanted to lead them on a spiritual journey of the heart.
The truth does set you free, but the truth wants you dead. Dead to self. The truth will set us free from our enemy, but who is our enemy? Not the hateful boss. Not the guy who cuts you off in traffic. Not your brother-in-law. Not the Egyptians. Not the worker at McDonalds. Your real enemy is the devil. It is pointless to become angry at your hateful boss, the guy who cuts you off in traffic, your brother-in-law or the worker at a restaurant. They are not the ones who made you angry. Your anger came from within your own gates. Pride activated your anger and your very own pride caused you to stumble and fall. Truth came to set your heart free. Truth came to shine the light in your heart so you could see the enemy that causes you to stumble comes from within and not from without.
The Israelites thought that once they had been set free from the Egyptians their lives would be perfect living in the land of milk and honey. But they are an example of being set free from their human enemies but still being enslaved to the enemy that lived within their own hearts.
The truth will set you free from self. It will not set you free from annoying people. It is a painful, soul wrenching experience to evict pride. Our pride protects us from reality. Our pride tells us lies we like to believe. It’s my pride that tells me I shouldn’t be cut off in traffic. It’s my pride that says my boss should always be nice to me. It’s my pride that says my fast food order should always be right.
We think if only we were treated as we deserve we would be happy. But I can be pretty sure even kings and queens, who are treated with all kinds of respect, are not always happy. Why? Because true joy does not come from the admiration of our fellow man. True joy is experienced not by seeking our own glory, but by seeking the glory of God.
God’s wisdom and beauty are like a fall day. The leaves fall from the trees and die, but there is a beauty in death to self. The thought of death to self brings a cold chill to the heart like winter. But God will raise up the soul who dies to self believing in Him and His power. The beauty of new life will replace the death and soon the heat of the Holy Spirit will take hold of the heart and the new small plants of spring will bear fruit for Him. The cycle continues, you continue to die to self and God continues to provide new life and fruit.